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Just the story of yet another shooting tragedy.  Two boys, playing in the house, find a gun, one of them dies.  'Just the facts, Ma'am.'  Follow me below the powder flash.

The Inquest


In the matter of the Inquisition    *    Before Eugen Pannenberg, Justice
Upon the body of William J.         *    of the Peace of Agua Caliente
Helm, Junior   deceased              *    Township, acting as Coroner


August 14th.  At about 2 o’clock p.m. information came to me that William
J. Helm Junior, son of William J. Helm Senior had just been killed at the
residence of said William J. Helm Senior (situated about 6 miles east of
Warner’s Ranch store) by an unknown person.  I sent at once for a constable
and the parents of the deceased, the latter of whom were at the time at the
Aqua Caliente Hot Springs having left the 2 boys at home alone, and soon as I
could procure conveyance  went to the place of accident.  I summoned a jury the
following persons of whom qualified and were duly sworn were John Linton,
Raleigh Chilson, Robert Gunn, J.W. Knight, Benjamin Gilbert and John Thomas.

We found the body of William J. Helm Junior, the deceased, on a bed in the
Yard or orchard of the premises, a few yards from the house.  The deceased (a
boy about 7 or 8 years old) must have been sitting on the bed, when he was
shot, his right foot rested or almost rested on the ground and the body lay back
on the bed.  We further found that the ball of a small pistol went into his right
eye and had come out just above and behind the left ear.

The Testimony



William J. Helm being first duly sworn says:

What is your name, residence, occupation?

William J. Helm, Aqua Caliente, San Diego County, California, Farmer

The deceased child is a son of yours?                         Yes

What is his name and age?          William J. Helm, the same as myself, he is 7-3/4
                                                      Years old, was 7 years last November.

Where was you when the child was killed?  I was at the springs at Aqua Caliente
                                                       This county.

How did you find the deceased child when you came home?
                                                        He was lying on the bed.

Did you know who killed your son?         I did not.

                                                          William J. Helm
                                                                      X (his mark)

Subscribed and sworn to before me this 14th day of August
                                                     Eugene Pennenberg
                                                     Justice of the Peace
                                                     Aqua Caliente Township

The Investigation

After examination of the body of the deceased by the Jury and myself I examined the father of the deceased, William J. Helm Senior and James Walsh, both of whom were first duly sworn, said testimony was taken down in writing by myself and signed and sworn to by the witnesses.

The brother of the deceased, Liney Helm, a boy about 10 years old, not being at home, this matter was adjourned until next day, August 15th at the hour of 10 o’clock a.m..  The funeral was to be at 9 o’clock a.m. and the Jury advised to be at the residence of H.T. Helm, the deceased to be buried on the ranch.

August 15th 10 o’clock a.m..  No Jury present, all were busy either with the body of the deceased, making the coffin, digging grave and were delayed longer than was expected.  At about 2 o’clock p.m. the funeral procession arrived with the body of the deceased at the residence of H.T. Helm and about the same time an unusually heavy wind and rain storm came up and the funeral had to be postponed until late in the afternoon, and further the boy Liney Helm whose testimony I intended to take was in no condition to answer any questions in a rational manner and there being no room anywhere at all places, that were at all sheltered were crowded with people.  This matter was at the hour of about 4:30 p.m. adjourned until next day at the hour of 10 o’clock a.m.  Meeting place Warner’s Ranch Store.

The Jury and myself present – the Jury, after some time of considering the advisability of taking the testimony of Liney Helm arrived at the following conclusion (see verdict) and
Rendered their verdict.  It was my opinion that the boy’s mind was deranged and it would be cruelty to question him in this matter.  I have given the father of the deceased a certificate of death stating that the deceased came to his death by the bullet of a pistol accidentally fired while deceased and his brother were playing with it.

I fully agree with the verdict of the Jury.

After the body of the deceased was inspected by the Jury and myself, the same was left in charge of the father of the deceased.

Eugene Pannenberg
Justice Of The Peace, Aqua Caliente Township,
San Diego County, State of California

Wid Helm was my Great-great-grandfather.  Liney (Lineaus) Helm was the father of my Great-aunt, Marilyn.  This all happened in the year of 1889.  Some things never change.

Originally posted to Bisbonian on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 06:29 AM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA and Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).

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